Alameda Gets State Approval To Reopen Outdoor Dining, Cash-Strapped Oakland Zoo

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 16: A grizzly bear swims in a pool at the Oakland Zoo on April 16, 2020 in Oakland, California.
Photo credit Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The state's Department of Public Health has approved Alameda County's request for variance, meaning outdoor dining and operations at the Oakland Zoo are now allowed.

However, Alameda County remains on the state's monitoring list with indoor worship services not allowed and indoor malls required to remain closed.

Effective Today, @AlamedaCounty Variance Approved: Outdoor Dining and Outdoor Operations of Oakland Zoo Now Allowed; Alameda County Remains on State Monitoring List: Indoor Worship Services and Indoor Malls are Required to Close

— Alameda County Public Health Department (@Dare2BWell) July 15, 2020

Outdoor dining was disallowed after the state issued stricter guidance last week.

Zoo President and CEO Dr. Joel Parrott told KCBS Radio they plan to reopen on July 29, allowing only 2,500 visitors at one time due to social distancing measures.

That's less than half of the zoo's typical 7,000-person capacity.

"I can't even describe how important (the community support has been) to us," Dr. Parrott said. "It really was an outpouring of support throughout the community. I think it really showed the community how important the zoo was to do. But it really showed us how important the zoo was to them."

The Oakland Zoo, which has experienced financial hardship since stay-at-home orders were issued, had previously said it would be forced to permanently close if it wasn't able to reopen soon. Dr. Parrott said the zoo plans to "scale back operations," but projects the facility will be able to stay open as they continue to raise lost revenue.

The zoo will host a one-hour virtual fundraiser on July 25.